Places to see birds

The Ouse Valley Estuary Project

The Ouse Valley Estuary Project

The Ouse Valley Estuary is a relatively new nature reserve. It was created to compensate for the loss of land caused by the installation of a new industrial complex in Newhaven. It encompasses a variety of different habitats, from natural marshland and wet grassland, to coastal scrub and woodland. Situated between Newhaven and Seaford it backs onto an area of beach called Tidemills, arguably the best place in the county for purple sandpipers, which can be spotted from a short walk up the East Pier, jutting out from the river mouth. This area has also produced black redstart, black-necked grebe and merlin in recent years. The reserve itself has a circular walk as well as many paths leading to and from the reserve in the direction of Seaford and Newhaven. It is a good area for cyclists but the birds do not appear to mind!

In the centre of the reserve is a small semicircle of water that the locals refer to colloquially as "the Horseshoe" and this a good spot for seeing many if not all of the wetland birds that frequent the Ouse Estuary. There are always small groups of teal, curlew and lapwing visible from this point and up to four species of gull regularly roost on the wet grassland in front of the Horseshoe. To minimise disturbance to the birds a large screen has been erected following the contours of the Horseshoe to allow people to comfortably view birds a few feet away whilst disturbing them as little as possible. The Horseshoe numbers snipe and water rail amongst its commonly seen residents, and coot, moorhen and little grebe have been seen here. Kingfishers have recently become more common on the reserve and green woodpeckers are often seen feeding on the areas of dry ground in front of the bird screen. The reserve is also well known for having an important colony of great crested newts.

If you take the concrete road towards the ruins of the old village of Tidemills, the ground dries out and slowly fades into scrub and grassland. An offshoot of the River Ouse cuts across the path leading to the beach and peters out on the left hand side, leaving small pools of salt water that are very attractive to redshank and dunlin. On the left side of the river, from the paths that run parallel, grey plover and greenshank have been seen, with stonechats, a variety of finches and skylarks visible on the seaward bank. Follow the path right along the beach and you will come to the East Pier, THE site for purple sandpipers.

To get to the reserve follow the A259 from Newhaven to Seaford, there is a turning on the right at grid ref. TQ464005. This leads into a purpose built car park, from which there are paths leading into the reserve and up across the railway line towards the beach. There is also an information board that shows you the whole reserve and the routes around and through it.